When you think of someone living with Alzheimer’s or dementia do you picture them looking a certain way?
Perhaps you think of an older person who is confused, repeating the same questions over and over or wearing mis-matched clothes. While someone with Alzheimer’s may exhibit these behaviors at some point, the disease affects people in different ways, and it can strike people in their 50’s or even earlier. Assuming everyone living in cognitive decline will look or act a certain way simply isn’t true and can perpetuate stigma and fear often surrounding Alzheimer’s.
Learning more about the disease and how it impacts the brain can give you a better understanding of what it is like to live in cognitive decline or potentially spot early warning signs.
Alzheimer’s Can Progress Slowly
Alzheimer’s and dementia are progressive. Barring a sudden injury to the brain, such as massive stroke for example, someone doesn’t just wake up one day with multiple symptoms of the disease. It progresses slowly and can go unrecognized for years. Research suggests by the time most people show noticeable signs of dementia, the disease has been present and causing damage to their brain for many years.
The first sign is usually memory loss which can easily be passed off as normal forgetfulness. However, as the disease progresses many people in the early stages know something is wrong, which can be very scary. It isn’t uncommon for someone to try and hide symptoms or explain them away as a senior moment.
So yes, it is very possible for mom, dad or Uncle Joe to live with the disease for a long time without family or friends knowing or observing behaviors often associated with Alzheimer’s.
People Suffering From Alzheimer’s Can Look Like You
Cynthia Guzman had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. She didn’t deny or hide the disease but did recognize there were times she had trouble understanding or needed someone to slow down and explain something again.
In a touching article she details her experience during a trip to the ER for a respiratory health issue. As she went over her health history with medical staff she was told by many providers – but you don’t look like you have Alzheimer’s. In her article she notes:
The fact that even health professionals – who should know more about this disease process than the average person – were surprised by seeing someone with Alzheimer’s who is vibrant, energetic and articulate speaks volumes.
Learn More About Early Warning Signs
It is important to recognize the early signs of Alzheimer’s in yourself or your family members so you can talk to your doctor as early as possible. If diagnosed and treated early a doctor may be able to prescribe medications to help slow the disease’s effects. Download your copy of the top 10 warning signs from alz.com or read more about recognizing the signs so you can stay educated.
About The Memory Centers
The Memory Center communities in Midlothian/Richmond, Virginia Beach and Johns Creek provide dedicated care for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Our Virginia Beach location was founded as the first assisted living facility devoted specifically to memory care. Our unique design and programs meet the challenging conditions of an aging brain with a caring, interactive community.
Utilizing the latest in science, nutrition and interactive therapies, our daily structured activities provide meaningful purpose to those with memory loss.
All Memory Center communities are built around our original Town Center and Neighborhood layout and feature focused programming and daily activities available across all levels of dementia. We get to know each resident for who they are today – not who they used to be.